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Can a Country work 100% with Renewable Energy?

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Nordic European countries have been always worthy when we talk about Renewable Energy Sources. Denmark last summer produced almost 140% of its energy needs from wind power, some of which it exported to its country-neighbors. Oil-wealthy Norway produces about 100% of its electricity from hydro plants and has one of the highest rates of electric vehicle ownership on the planet per capita. Iceland, blessed by large amounts of renewable geothermal sources, meets about 85% of its energy needs from renewables. What about Sweden?

Its Prime Minister Löfven recently declared, at the U.N. General Assembly, that his nation of not more than 10 million people would become “one of the first fossil-free welfare states in the whole world”. The reality is that Scandinavia’s largest country is already moving toward this goal. Currently, in fact, almost 80% of its electricity comes from non-fossil fuel sources. The challenge, however, is that a large portion of this power comes from nuclear. After decades of promising to decommission its nuclear power plants, the country’s government decided it would allow new plants to replace shuttered ones in 2010. Suspending the activity of 10/13 nuclear power plants will throw a wrench in Sweden’s plans, as not everyone, notably the country’s power-sharing Green Party, sees this form of power as “clean” despite the fact it discharges zero emissions – CO2 in the first line – into the atmosphere. In 2016, the country’s energy and environment ministries will spend about 4.5 billion crowns (545 million $) on projects including solar-cell research and electric-vehicle technologies. Smart-grid and other energy-efficient technologies will also see a boost in research dollars.

Curiously, Sweden is not just investing money within its borders. Some of those funds will be spent on sustainable development projects abroad and particularly in poorer countries. In that sense, Sweden is taking leadership. Sweden has not set a timetable on when exactly it will reach the 100% goal. According to Bloomberg, the focus is a rapid reduction in emissions by 2020, with the country’s capital, Stockholm, possibly going fossil fuel-free by 2050. “Increased climate funding to developing countries and climate action within the framework of development assistance are fundamental to Sweden’s and the EU’s credibility in the climate negotiations” said the Swedish government in a recent press statement. Shifting a small country such as Sweden is from fossil to renewable would not be complicated, but its effort toward RES and Environmental Sustainability it has to be listened, worldwide.

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Lorenzo Rubino
Laureato magistrale a 24 anni in ingegneria energetica al PoliTO. Esperto in efficienza energetica industriale, commerciale, residenziale. Progettista tecnico di impianti rinnovabili e tradizionali. Responsabile di #EnergyCuE da marzo 2015. Appassionato di nuove tecnologie e policy, soprattutto se finalizzate alla sostenibilità della produzione di energia. Mi sento curioso, riflessivo ma anche spontaneo, diretto e pragmatico, da buon ingegnere!